Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Damn Yankees are trying to steal our victory in 1812

Meet Col. Joel Stone, Canada’s newest hero of the War of 1812.

Born in Connecticut in 1749, Stone moved to Upper Canada during the tumult of the American Revolution and settled at Gananoque, in eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River, where he opened a sawmill and got himself appointed to a variety of government posts, including commander of the local militia. But his quiet life as a gentleman settler ended when the United States declared war in June 1812. Suddenly Col. Stone and his small community found themselves in the midst of the fight for Canada.

The St. Lawrence was the British army’s sole supply route to Upper Canada and the Great Lakes. If the American military cut river access, the whole province, from Kingston to what is now Windsor, would inevitably fall to the invaders. If Canada was to exist as an independent country, Col. Stone and the Gananoque militia had to keep their part of this vital supply route open.

Millionaire tax would cover cost of Obama jobs bill

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Democrats' proposed tax on millionaires would raise an estimated $453 billion, more than enough to pay for President Obama's jobs bill.

That's the latest from the Congressional Budget Office, which on Friday released its cost and revenue estimates for the American Jobs Act of 2011.

The bill calls for $447 billion in new and extended tax cuts along with additional spending on infrastructure, jobs training and housing help among other things.

On net, the legislation would reduce deficits by $6 billion over the next decade.

CBO to debt committee: Cutting now could hurt

The single largest measure in the package -- reducing revenues by $265 billion -- is an extended and expanded payroll tax cut.

Employees normally pay 6.2% on their first $106,800 of wages into Social Security, but they are now paying only 4.2%. That break is set to expire at the end of December, and Obama wants to cut the tax in half to 3.1%.

Another notable measure, costing roughly $44 billion, is an extension of emergency jobless benefits to help the long-term unemployed. Lawmakers first expanded benefits to cover 99 weeks in 2009, and have since reauthorized the expansion five times.

Just for the Record: Anti-Mormonism Is Bigotry Too

The front page of the Washington Post today says "Romney pushes aside Mormonism question." (The web version of the story has a different headline.) There is coverage all over the place about this weekend's Values Voters Summit, at which the Texas preacher Robert Jeffress, who introduced and endorsed Rick Perry, repeated his view that Mormonism is a cult, that Mormons are not Christians, and that voting for a Mormon like Mitt Romney "would give credibility to a cult."

This summer the New York Times ran an online debate on whether "Republicans Are Ready Now for a Mormon President." It was kicked off this way:
When Mitt Romney ran in the G.O.P. presidential primaries in 2008, his religion caused discomfort among some conservative voters who objected to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The ensuing Times discussion was intelligent, and I do understand the political handicapping aspect of stories about the "Mormon angle." It's like asking three years ago whether America was "ready" for a black president. Or whether we're "ready" for a Hispanic, female, Jewish, Asian, Muslim, atheist, gay, unmarried, overweight, etc President.

Will Perry Return Koch Campaign Cash?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry rails against Iran's "extremist, repressive ideology." He condemns any company who does business with "a terrorist state like Iran" for aiding a country that wants to kill American troops. And as governor he told his state's biggest investment funds to divest from all companies with Iran ties; continuing such investments, he explained, was "investing in terrorism."

But now Perry, a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination, has an Iran problem: One of his most high-profile donors, Koch Industries, for years did business with Iran, helping to grow the Iranian energy industry. Which means that at the same time he was slamming companies profiting off of business with Iran, Perry was pocketing campaign cash from a company doing just that. In light of the Koch-Iran revelations, the left-leaning outside spending group American Bridge is demanding Perry give back his Koch money. "If [Perry] does not immediately return all of the Koch's Iran-tainted money and repudiate their actions, he has no business running to be the leader of the free world," says Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge, which compiled research on Perry's Iran comments and past campaign donations.

'Rich People Create Jobs' and five other myths that must die for our economy to live

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's character is forced to relive a single day over and over and over—waking up to the same song every morning, meeting the same people, having the same conversations—until, after thousands of repetitions, he finally realizes what a shmo he's been his entire life. With that epiphany, the calendar starts to flip forward again. His life reboots, and he once again gets to hear new songs, meet new people, and have entirely new conversations.

When it comes to the economy, we're stuck in our own version of Groundhog Day—and this one doesn't seem to be coming to an end. America is in a deep and persistent slump, and unemployment is mired at more than 9 percent. Yet when you turn on the TV, all you hear are the same manufactured sound bites delivered in the same apocalyptic tones from the same pack of talking heads—over and over and over. Groundhog Day has turned into the eighth circle of hell.

Unfortunately, these zombie talking points aren't just wrong; they're dangerous. If we're ever going to revive the economy, we've got to tackle them head on. Here are six of the worst.

John Carlos, 1968 Olympic U.S. Medalist, on the Revolutionary Sports Moment That Changed The World

Almost half a century after his famous raised-fist salute at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, John Carlos has authored a new memoir with sports writer Dave Zirin, "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World." Olympic medal winners in the 200 meter race, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the national anthem at the Olympic prize ceremony as a protest against racism in the United States. Seen around the world, the Black Power salute on the Olympic medal stand sparked controversy and an eventual career fallout. "I wasn’t there for the race, I was there to make a statement," Carlos says. "I was ashamed of America for America’s deeds — what they were doing in history as well as what they were doing at that time.”

Source: Democracy Now! 

The Job Killers

Among the many ritual ablutions a Republican presidential contender must perform is the signing of Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," a document the length and subtlety of a bumper sticker that commits politicians to oppose "any and all efforts to increase taxes." To date, all the GOP hopefuls, save Jon Huntsman, have signed on, as have 238 House members (99 percent of the GOP caucus), 41 senators, and more than 1,200 state legislators (PDF).

Norquist, a professional conservative and Washington salonista, drew up the pledge in 1986 at the behest of Ronald Reagan (who had signed a major federal tax increase a few years earlier, but never mind). It was part of the Republicans' nascent "starve the beast" campaign, which postulated that since cutting public services would always be unpopular, the way to shrink the government was to give it little more than hardtack. The movement erupted into full bloom in 2001, when Congress passed the Bush tax cut package; at the time, Norquist crowed: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Leaving aside the metaphor's casual brutality (what can you really drown in the tub? A puppy? A child?), shrinking government wasn't on the agenda. Not really. Wars of choice, Medicare Part D—George W. Bush cranked up federal spending, and Norquist and his pledges didn't kick.

U.S. Incomes Declined More During Recovery Than In Recession

The U.S. economy may technically be in a recovery, but it likely doesn’t feel that way for many Americans when grabbing for their wallets.

Median annual household income has fallen more during the recovery than it did during the recession, according to a new study from former Census Bureau officials Gordon Green and John Code. Between December 2007 and June 2009, when the U.S. economy was in recession, incomes declined 3.2 percent. While during the recovery between June 2009 and June 2011 incomes fell 6.7 percent, the study found.

The lack of income growth may explain why for most Americans the recovery still feels like a recession. Eight in 10 Americans believe the recession is an ongoing problem, according to a recent Gallup poll. And workers don't anticipate things will pick up any time soon. Nine out of 10 Americans said they don't expect to get a raise that will be enough to compensate for the rising costs of essentials like food and fuel, according an American Pulse survey released in June.

The Myth of Voter Fraud

It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote — 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. As a result, more than five million eligible voters will have a harder time participating in the 2012 election.

Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters. Cutting back on early voting, which has been popular among working people who often cannot afford to take off from their jobs on Election Day, will save money, they claim.

None of these explanations are true. There is almost no voting fraud in America. And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans are passing these laws is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes.

Occupy Wall Street Needs Voice From Main Street

Whatever one's view of Occupy Wall Street -- and how quickly those on the right and those on the left have gone to their respective corners and hammered out their talking points -- it is a positive step that there might be some thought given to where we are and where we are going. But so far, one group has been fairly quiet, if the point is to address the undue political clout and financial power -- to say nothing of economic risk -- now manifest in our leading banks. It is the voice of the American banker.

Not Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, who continues his reign as the doyen of US banking -- nor Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who occupies a very different role in the public imagination -- but rather the leaders of 7,500 other banks across the country. These are the banks that continue to play the critical role of commercial banking in our economy -- they take deposits and make loans.

As a result of two decades of consolidation, the commercial banking industry in the U.S. has become increasing concentrated. Today, the four largest banks, JP Morgan, Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, comprise just over 40% of the total assets of the U.S. commercial banking system.

Thailand Flooding 2011: Prime Minister Says Floods Have Reached 'Crisis Level'

BANGKOK -- Thailand's prime minister is warning that rising floodwaters which have wreaked havoc across the nation are now threatening the capital, Bangkok, as the death toll from the worst monsoon rains in decades rose Saturday to 253.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the flooding – which has severed rail links with the north, shut dozens of highways and swamped ancient Buddhist temples in the city of Ayutthaya – has reached a crisis level.

Bangkok has so far been spared serious damage, but many fear it could be inundated as large amounts of water flows from submerged northern rice fields toward the Gulf of Thailand. That critical runoff is expected to be impeded by high ocean tides in mid-October, and Tropical Storm Nalgae is also forecast to bring new rain in the days ahead.

In a radio message Saturday, Yingluck said authorities are hoping to ease the crisis by installing up to 400 water pumps along the Chao Phraya River, which snakes through Bangkok, to help push water to the sea. Seven canals will also be dug on the outskirts of the city, she said.

Air Canada Work Stoppage Deemed Unacceptable As Federal Government Vows To Intervene

TORONTO - An escalating labour dispute at Air Canada is throwing the relationship between a union and its members into the spotlight after flight attendants rejected a deal negotiated by their representatives for the second time.

Some 6,800 flight attendants also served strike notice which could see them walk off the job early Thursday morning — a move which raised questions about whether the Canadian Union of Public Employees really understood what its members want.

After its second proposed contract was tossed out over the weekend, Air Canada (TSX:AC.A) said it was "evaluating its options" Monday.

"We have to question the legitimacy of the union's representation and in this case the collective bargaining process," said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

"The CUPE leadership has failed to secure ratification of two separate tentative agreements despite the company providing industry leading compensation and benefits. Recall that CUPE said this last offer met 80 per cent of its members' demands."

Tory MP who shot holes though Liberal long-gun registry reloads

Candice Hoeppner slays Liberal politicians for a living.

The second-term MP from Manitoba is the unlikely face of the Harper Conservatives’ efforts to kill the long-gun registry – and in her own small way she has helped deal a near-fatal blow to the Liberal Party of Canada.

For that she was rewarded by Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he appointed her parliamentary secretary to the Public Safety Minister just after the May election.

It means she’s not finished with the registry yet. The government bill to scrap it is expected to be introduced soon in the Commons, fulfilling a long-held Conservative promise to repeal the law if and when the party won a majority government.

It will be Ms. Hoeppner’s job now to see it through to its death.

She can hardly wait.

Air Canada caught between employees and customers in labour dispute

As its flight attendants prepare to strike this week, Air Canada finds itself squeezed between staff in revolt and consumers demanding lower fares, casting a cloud over the country’s largest airline.

The root of the conflict is Air Canada’s plan to create a new low-cost division, hiring up to 1,400 flight attendants at reduced wages and offering discounted fares on leisure routes to Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Workers fear that the budget airline operation threatens their wages and job security. Industry analysts, meanwhile, suggest the plan is crucial to the carrier’s survival.

A walkout by 6,800 staff, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, could begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt is expected to respond promptly with back-to-work legislation. But no amount of intervention can untie the tangle of conflicting interests buffeting Air Canada and its workers.

Torture and abuse of detainees ‘systematic’ in Afghanistan, UN says

Afghanistan’s internal security service and police use torture and other abusive methods to extract confessions from suspected insurgents held in a number of detention centres around the country, according to a new report by the United Nations mission in Afghanistan.

Interviews with 379 detainees at 47 facilities over the past year found “a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment” at a number of centres, the study says.

It says 46 per cent of the detainees it spoke with recounted some sort of torture or abuse, but also noted that the Afghan government co-operated with its inquiry and neither sanctioned nor defended the abuse of prisoners.

The UN report raises questions about the capacity of Afghanistan’s fledgling government institutions to absorb the reams of human-rights laws that the country adopted under foreign tutelage in the past six years.

Occupy Wall Street isn’t the left’s Tea Party

Will the Wall Street Occupiers morph into a movement that has as much impact on the Democratic Party as the Tea Party has had on the GOP? Maybe. But there are reasons for doubting it.

Tea Partiers have been a mixed blessing for the GOP establishment – a source of new ground troops and energy but also a pain in the assets with regard to attracting independent voters. As Rick Perry and Mitt Romney square off, that pain will become more evident.

So far the Wall Street Occupiers have helped the Democratic Party. Their inchoate demand that the rich pay their fair share is tailor-made for the Democrats’ new plan for a 5.6 percent tax on millionaires, as well as the President’s push to end the Bush tax cut for people with incomes over $250,000 and to limit deductions at the top.

And the Occupiers give the President a potential campaign theme. “These days, a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded,” he said at his news conference this week, predicting that the frustration fueling the Occupiers will “express itself politically in 2012 and beyond until people feel like once again we’re getting back to some old-fashioned American values.”

Source: Politics Salon  

Broken promises and impotent government hurt Hamilton


A grim anniversary passed unmarked last week in a once-proud steel town.

It was one year ago that Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel began its shutdown of the blast furnace at the former Stelco in Hamilton, a precursor to its lockout of 900 workers a month later.

One year later, the workers remain on the street and the 2007 U.S. Steel purchase of Stelco remains the neon sign advertising the inadequacies of a toothless and secretive Investment Canada Act.

U.S. Steel is now threatening a permanent shutdown at its Hamilton Works and the federal government, which allowed the takeover, is powerless to do anything about it.

The two sides return to the bargaining table Monday morning, but there appears to have been little movement from either the American company or Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers.

“Having talks is better than not having talks,” says 1005 president Rolf Gerstenberger.

Air Canada flight attendants reject latest deal

Dealing a huge blow to Air Canada’s labour relations, the airline’s flight attendants have rejected a second tentative deal, setting in motion a possible strike at midnight Thursday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees issued the strike notice Sunday evening after flight attendants voted 65 per cent to reject the latest deal, negotiated as the federal Conservatives threatened back-to-work legislation.

Under federal law, the union must serve notice of a possible strike within 24 hours of rejecting a tentative agreement. In addition, 72 hours’ notice must be given before any job action, putting the deadline at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

In a news release, CUPE’s Air Canada component president Jeff Taylor said the results show just how frustrated the airline’s 6,800 flight attendants are.

“We urge the federal government, in the strongest possible terms, to respect our right to collective bargaining and not intervene unilaterally in this dispute,” said Taylor.

Veterans urge government to review

The veterans affairs minister has ordered his officials to address concerns that veterans have voiced about travel costs to see mental health professionals.

A spokesman for Steven Blaney says departmental officials have been told to follow up with veterans to ensure they’re getting the benefits and services they need.

Sunday’s ministerial edict follows complaints from former members of the military.

Former members of the Canadian military who are struggling with mental health problems say they’re being denied benefits from Veterans Affairs to cover travel costs to their psychologists and other medical professionals.

Two veterans said they’ve received notice from the department that their travel coverage to psychologists and psychiatrists would end last summer, leaving them on the hook for the payments if they wanted to continue seeing them.

Steve Bird said he was told in June that Veterans Affairs would no longer pay costs associated with his regular trips from his home in southeastern Saskatchewan to Saskatoon to see a team of health-care providers.

These men profit from wild market swings

Wednesday was a good day for Fawad Khan.

He got up shortly before 3 a.m. and headed to a bank of computers in his Mississauga basement. While his family slept, he started trading.

One screen charted the euro in real time. It looked like the seismic readout for an earthquake. Trading in this kind of market, with one’s own money, is not for the faint of heart.

At 3 a.m., Khan bought euros, expecting the currency’s value to rise. When it did, he sold. Then he bought low and sold high, again. Within an hour he was up $750 (US). For his third move, he went short, predicting the euro would fall. It did, and he made another $300. It was 4:30 a.m.

“Then I went back to sleep,” says Khan, 62, a civil engineer who made day trading his full-time job after emigrating from Pakistan in 1999.

At 1 p.m., Khan was back in the basement of his modest bungalow. He sold short again, both the euro and the S&P 500 stock index. He called it a day at 2:30 p.m. — $2,935 (US) richer after three hours of trading.

Occupy Wall Street Organizer: Protest Expands Despite Police Effort to "Silence" Demonstrators

Now in its fourth week, the Occupy Wall Street encampment has attracted thousands of demonstrators who continue to tackle the challenges of self-organizing and building a movement. As their numbers swell and the media debates who they are, the Democracy Now! team packed up our gear and headed to Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan to hear people speak for themselves. We first talk to Justin Wedes, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street. He describes how New York City police have arrested people for peacefully demonstrating and exerting their free speech rights. "The reaction has been—and I think the whole world sees it now—that every time that you try to silence peaceful protests, you just get an explosion of new support. And I think that’s what’s happened. And it really bares sort of naked the truth about who the NYPD serve and protect. And if that’s not the people… then we have a problem."

Source: Democracy Now! 

Battle rages for soldiers returning home from war

KINGSTON—In the fall of 2009, Lt.-Col. Rob Martin was a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, a senior leader in the Canadian military and an utterly broken man.

Twenty-five Canadian soldiers died during the officer’s 2008-09 tour in Kandahar, where his job was to study, track and help combat the Taliban using scraps of gathered intelligence and electronic signals. Each death was an emotional blow.

Once at home, Martin became emotionally numb toward his wife and three young children.

As deputy commander of the military unit responsible for intelligence, communications and electronic warfare, he was spending upwards of 16 hours a day at work, yet basic tasks — preparing a budget or writing strategic reports — felt like impossible assignments.

Over the course of six weeks, he shed 30 pounds and the soldier’s uniform — once worn by a tall, lean and physically fit man — now hung off a bony frame.

His mind also started to wander during his hour-long commutes to work in Ottawa. It settled on a death fantasy. “When I was driving back and forth to work I started to look at the front ends of dump trucks,” he said. “I would think, ‘It would just take a little swerve. That could be it.’”

D.C. Protests: Reports Of Pepper-Spray Incident At Air And Space Museum

WASHINGTON -- According to dispatches on Twitter, security officials at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum used pepper spray on "Stop the Machine" demonstrators protesting an exhibition on drone aircraft, which is described as a "glorification of extra-judicial executions and the military industrial complex at a public institution" on the group's Facebook page. The group reportedly made their way inside the museum, located on the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol, and dropped a three-story banner that read "No Drones, Stop the Afghan War."

The protesters have asked for donations of T-shirts, saline and towels to be brought to the first-aid tent in Freedom Plaza, the home base of the "Stop the Machine" protests.

According to an Associated Press report via WTOP:
When a security guard tried to stop the group from entering, saying they could not come in with the signs, he was apparently held by demonstrators, [Smithsonian spokesman John] Gibbons said. A second guard who arrived used pepper spray on at least one person and the crowd dispersed.
The Air and Space Museum is closed for the rest of the day, according to its website.

Unemployed Seek Protection Against Job Bias

WASHINGTON — After two years on the unemployment rolls, Selena Forte thought she'd found a temporary job at a delivery company that matched her qualifications.

But Forte, a 55-year-old from Cleveland, says a recruiter for an employment agency told her she would not be considered for the job because she had been out of work too long. She had lost her job driving a bus.

"They didn't even want to hear about my experience," said Forte. "It didn't make sense. You're always told just go out there and get a job."

Forte, scraping by now as a part time substitute school bus driver, is part of a growing number of unemployed or underemployed Americans who complain they are being screened out of job openings for the very reason they're looking for work in the first place. Some companies and job agencies prefer applicants who already have jobs, or haven't been jobless too long.

Nancy Pelosi Weighs In On Wall Street Protests, Pushes Back On Eric Cantor's 'Growing Mobs' Criticism

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she agrees with protesters from Wall Street to Washington who are saying most of the country isn't getting a fair shake from the financial and political establishments.

"I support the message to the establishment, whether it's Wall Street or the political establishment, that things have to change," she said.

Republicans are largely criticizing the message from demonstrators as divisive. Asked to respond, the California Democrat said on ABC's "This Week" that the GOP didn't object to the Tea Party's in-your-face protests against members of Congress in last year's elections.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently said he was concerned about the "growing mobs" and criticized those who support them. He said condoning the demonstrations amounted to supporting the "pitting of Americans against Americans."

HuffPost's Zach Carter reports:
"I didn't hear him say anything when the Tea Party was out actually spitting on members of Congress," Pelosi said, referring to a 2010 event on Capitol Hill in which a Tea Party protester spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
The loosely-affiliated movement amassed on Wall Street and in Washington in recent weeks is protesting the power of the financial and political sectors.

Source: Huffington 

Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann Dodge Question On Robert Jeffress Calling Mormonism 'A Cult'

(AP/The Huffington Post) WASHINGTON — Two Republican presidential candidates refused to say on Sunday whether they believe Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is a Christian.

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain declined to address the matter, saying he didn't want to get involved in brewing controversy over Romney's religion on CNN's "State of the Union."

"He's a Mormon, that much I know," Cain said. "I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that. I'm not getting into that."

Elaborating on his posture toward the issue he said, "If that's what it looks like, that I'm dodging it, it's because it is not going to help us boost this economy. You know that's my number one priority."

Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann also opted against answering the question, saying she considers the issue unimportant to the Republican presidential campaign.

"This is so inconsequential as far as this campaign is concerned," she said. "To make this a big issue is ridiculous right now, because every day I'm on the street talking to people. This is not what people are talking about."

Revealed, the decade-old book that lit the fire under Occupy Wall Street

Behind every revolution lurks a set of heavy tomes. The frenzy of men and women of action is often fuelled by the carefully worked out thoughts of philosophers. The French Revolution can be traced back to Rousseau, international communism to Karl Marx's patient dissection of the vices of capitalism, and the rise of the 1960s New Left was partly kindled by writers like Herbert Marcuse.

The past six months saw a cluster of demonstrations and occupations across Europe. Those protests, along with the uprisings of the Arab Spring, helped inspire the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement, which in turn is prompting solidarity actions across the continent, including Toronto and Vancouver next weekend. So who qualifies as today's Marx or Marcuse?

The one book that both predicted and helped shape the current wave of radicalism is Empire, a dense and controversial study of globalization by the Italian political philosopher and activist Antonio Negri and the American literary theorist Michael Hardt.

War On The EPA: Republican Bills Would Erase Decades Of Protection

WASHINGTON -- America's environmental protections are under a sweeping, concerted assault in Congress that could effectively roll back the federal government's ability to safeguard air and water more than 100 years, Democrats and advocates say.

The headlines have not been dramatic, and the individual attacks on relatively obscure rules seldom generate much attention beyond those who are most intently focused on environmental regulation.

But taken together, the separate moves -- led by House Republicans -- add up to a stunning campaign against governmental regulatory authority that is now surprisingly close to succeeding.

In just the year since the GOP took control of the House, there have been at least 159 votes held against environmental protections -- including 83 targeting the Environmental Protection Agency -- on the House floor alone, according to a list compiled by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"Republicans have made an assault on all environmental issues," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee. "This is, without doubt, the most anti-environmental Congress in history."